Do you mean unremastered or unrestored? I think Paramount originally issued Star Trek on single disks that proably used the same transfers as they had for VHS. Then they issued Star Trek in restored complete seasons. Then they issued remastered complete seasons, based on the restored versions, that added some new special effects and did things like change the look of the planets. The blu rays have both the restored original broadcast versions and the remastered versions.
That's right. The single-issue releases of the original series were in the very early days of DVD, and they did not go back to the original film elements or do any sort of restoration, so there was a very large amount of print damage, dirt etc evident. When DVD first started appearing the improvements in quality were almost entirely due to the fact that given the same source, DVD will always give you a better copy than VHS did and that was enough to be a selling point. As time went on, collectors accepted DVD quality as the normal standard and began to expect more, demand increased for DVD's taken from the highest possible source copy. The second wave of releases, the boxsets, were better but still not of the highest possible quality. Personally I prefer the original work; the new effects never felt quite right to me although I know a lot of people like them. I accept they are done in a sympathetic way but even so they always jar when they appear. I would also say that remastering is a bit of a misnomer. These episodes are editted and are in essence completely new works, since the original effects scenes are - for the most part - entirely removed and replaced. For myself I consider a work remastered when you create an entirely new master of the original work. That is all. It may also have extensive restoration, that is, restoring it to as close to the original pristine work - for example, removing things like dirt of film damage. The third wave of releases including BluRay, produced the highest possible quality reproductions of the highest possible quality originals, ie the original elements. But the main intent was to bring them up to par for high definition broadcast - not for DVD or BluRay. Star Trek was an obvious choice to attreact people into taking out subscriptions for high definition TV (and indeed, to buy the TV's themselves to watch it on). Moreover, the original series was made on film and thus the source material was also in high defintion. The glaring problem was that of the effects, which not only looked dated but also had much poorer image quality, due to the way the shots were made, using multiple overlays. As to the "re-imagined" Star Trek, I thought the movie was unrelentingly awful! Possibly the most ugly incarnation of the Enterprise ever seen with interiors that for some unknown reason had 23rd century technology apparently working on the same principles as a Victorian steamship, the only thing missing were the stokers shovelling coal.
That's not at all correct or accurate about the original single disc DVDs. They were absolutely remastered from new transfers.
Certainly there was not the same level of restoration work as the later "remastered" HD-DVD/Blu-rays with the new effects, which came from new scans of the negatives, digitally cleaned up, and re-color timed. But most assuredly new at-the-time film transfers and not the same transfers as the VHS (and the Laserdisc releases, btw) from the mid 80's. Those first DVD sets had much better color saturation, was much cleaner, and where better resolved than any previous VHS/laserdisc release.
If they did simply dump the old analog 80's transfers to DVD back in 1999, there would have been screams and howls right here on this forum at the time (and there weren't - I was here then). And, trust me, old analog transfers don't look better on DVD. Just check out any of the DVD releases of The Quiet Man before Olive finally released a half-decent DVD and Blu-ray version last month, all the older ones are from the same transfer done for the 1994 VHS and laserdisc 40th Anniversary release (a good 10 after the ones for Star Trek were done for the last set of VHS/laserdisc issues) and they all look like fuzzy mush - exactly as the VHS from '94 does.
I have several of the Star Trek TOS laserdiscs that I used to compare with the DVD issues once I started buying them (and I bought all 40 of the DVDs, while I only managed to by about 8 of the laserdiscs). The difference was much greater in clarity and image quality than what could be accounted for in just a change in format.
Are those first single disc DVD issues perfect?
No. Of course not.
There were editing problems with a few episodes missing a few short scenes, the color could get a bit over-saturated at times (i.e., the red uniform shirts), and the remixed sound did have issues too, here and there. But it was the first time we finally hear the original song, "Goodnight, Sweetheart", in a home video release of "City on the Edge of Forever". And, I'm sorry, but print damage and dirt was not that much of an issue at all with these DVDs either - other then the printed-in dirt and such in the original optical effects shots (but they are there in the Blu-ray, too).
And then, of course, Fox showed Paramount how to do TV on DVD right in 2000 by releasing "The X-Files" as full season sets. But Paramount had already committed to 2 episodes per single disc releases (as they did with the laserdiscs).
I did sell off my entire DVD collection after I got all 3 season sets of the Blu-rays, though.